The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

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The Coquette: Letter 28 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“I go on finely with my amour,” Sanford writes Charles. Sanford knows that Eliza’s friends do not approve of him, and he wonders why this alone is not enough to dissuade her interests. Despite their disapproval, Eliza acts as if she desires Sanford, and this encourages his behavior. He still worries that she is more interested in Reverend Boyer, however, and he plans to “detach her from him,” which is sure to anger her friends as well and therefore serve a double purpose.
Sanford is clearly a selfish man who cares about nothing but his own desires. He knows that he is damaging to Eliza’s reputation, he simply doesn’t care. He cares so little, in fact, that he is prepared to sabotage her relationship with Boyer in order to get what he wants. For Boyer, irritating and offending Eliza’s prudish, self-righteous friends is merely a perk.
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“I have not yet determined to seduce [Eliza],” Sanford tells Charles, although he doesn’t believe it would be difficult to do so. If Sanford does have sex with Eliza, he says, “she can blame none but herself.” She knew that he was a rake before she consented to their relationship, and as such, Eliza has “no reason to wonder” that Sanford “will act consistently with” this reputation. “If she will play with a lion,” Sanford writes, “let her beware of his paw.”
This too reflects the sexist nature of their patriarchal society. If Eliza’s reputation is ruined, Sanford does not bear any of the responsibility. He is free to move on to his next conquest while Eliza suffers the consequences. According to Sanford, that is no one’s fault but Eliza’s since she knew the risks beforehand. Therefore, if Eliza is hit with his “paw,” it is not Sanford’s fault.
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